A Livingston County commissioner is attempting to have the county’s insurance policy revised to exclude abortion coverage for non-union employees.

Commissioner Wes Nakagiri put forward a resolution at the August 14th meeting of the Personnel Committee, which passed 2-0 with Commissioners Bill Green and Doug Helzerman voting in favor. Commissioner Carol Griffith was absent. It states Livingston County is self-insured and chooses which specific health care benefits and procedures are covered by insurance and which are excluded. Nakagiri says a review of the health insurance plan document showed abortion coverage is included. He tells WHMI that it's his belief that taxpayers who are opposed to abortion should not be forced to contribute to this procedure and that it, "prevents taxpayers from being forced to fund this procedure with their tax dollars while protecting the sanctity of life."

Nakagiri's proposal seeks to eliminate coverage for non-union employees and direct those bargaining for the county with unionized employee groups to negotiate for elimination of abortion coverage. The resolution references a federal policy for members of Congress that states no federal or administrative funds will be used to cover abortions or administer plans that cover abortions. The resolution alleges abortion coverage provided by Livingston County is contrary to federal policy prohibiting taxpayer funded abortions and proposes that the change in benefits occur no later than the start of the new fiscal year in January.

When asked about the proposed resolution, Livingston County Democratic Party Chairwoman Judy Daubenmier said the resolution, "is a slap in the face to county employees who may face difficult health care decisions. We should trust them to make their own decisions without help from Wes Nakagiri and his fellow extremists on the county commission." Daubenmier added that the resolution, "doesn’t even make a provision for covering abortions necessary for the health of the woman or after rape and incest. I guess the commissioners who support this are agreeing with Rep. Steve King of Iowa who said the other day that rape and incest are essential to populating the earth. It is sad that the commission is spending time on this proposal when it does so little to help families in our county. The commission doesn’t have time to fix our roads, fund adequate programs for senior citizens, or provide more transportation services so people can get to their jobs. The only thing they have time for is jeopardizing women’s health care. I hope there are still some moderate Republicans left in this county who will contact their county commissioners and urge them to say no to this extremism."

In response, Nakagiri says, "For many decades the citizens of our county have elected leaders from the political party that supports the sanctity of life. Implementing this resolution is consistent with the expectations a majority of Livingston County citizens and is consistent with federal government policy for its employees." He added that, "It is worth noting that nothing in this resolution prevents an employee from obtaining an abortion using their own funds."

The resolution will come before the county's finance committee on Wednesday, Aug. 21, at its 7:30am meeting and then if approved, be on the Aug. 26 regular commission agenda. Both meetings are in the boardroom at the courthouse annex, 304 E. Grand River, Howell.

A copy of the resolution is attached. (JM/JK)